Gary Kubiak, his Texans, lost a game on Sunday which 31 other NFL coaches win
The Oakland Raiders traveled to Houston to take on the Andre Johnson-less Texans on Sunday, in a game that the Raiders needed for a number of reasons. Team Owner Al Davis passed the night before the game. It was a tough in-conference road game. This is a tiebreaker the Raiders and Texans both needed to feel safe for the playoffs when the reach ten wins. And if the Raider defense couldn’t show up and handle an offense that was missing perhaps the games best receiver, it was worth asking if the Raiders defense was ever going to show up.
The game itself was dominated not by the absence of Coach Davis, but by the presence of the Houston Texans defense, specifically LB Brian Cushing. Houston dictated the tone and tempo of the game on that side of the ball. They attacked the Raiders where they were weak: made Darren McFadden step up and block blitzing linebackers (he couldn’t), and hit Jason Campbell more often than he had been hit in the prior four games combined. With allowance for a few big plays the Raiders made in the passing game — step forward Darrius Heyward-Bey — the Texans shut down McFadden on the ground and handed their offense, one of the best in the NFL even without Johnson, a decisive advantage.
The offense preceded to leave it’s best plays at home, and went out and shot itself in the foot for the entire duration of the second half. And while the performance of the players may not be directly the fault of Gary Kubiak, it’s hard to point the finger at anyone else that against a swiss cheese Raider defense, the vaunted Texans offense managed just three points on it’s final three drives, and that the score was never at a point in which three points would have made a difference one way or the other. From a practical perspective, the Raiders shut out Kubiak’s Texans in the second half. And with one of the better OLs in the NFL, one of the better QBs, one of the best RBs, and a strong group of tight ends and recievers that teams shouldn’t be able to match up with, that result is inexcusable. The loss is crushing for the Texans and now there is absolutely no defense for Kubiak, a repeat offender, as an NFL head coach. The Texans can not make the playoffs if their head coach costs them one out of every five games they play this year.
And with Wade Phillips having head coaching experience, the Texans should fire Kubiak. They should have done it yesterday. It is, unequivocally, the only move they can make that will save their season.
The Raiders were able to win by being the better team, barely. They dominated the special teams thanks to a blocked punt and the comedic leg of Sebastian Janikowski. They had a better defensive day than the Texans had on offense. These two things combined to offset the dominance of the Texans defense on this day. But where the game was won and lost was on the sideline, where the Raiders couldn’t shoot themselves in the foot fast enough, and yet, stride for stride, the Texans torpedoed their own chances faster than the Raiders could.
Lets break down the final three Texans drives in detail. The Raiders did not record a single first down in between these drives, nor would they complete a pass. They ran off just 2:10 in clock. The following is an analysis of the Texans inability to score on a swiss cheese defense in the final 10 minutes with the rest of Oakland’s team a non-factor:
Matt Schaub targets Jacoby Jones three times, with all three passes incomplete.
Schaub attempts 14 passes, moving the chains three times via the pass, and once via a typically shady 4th down pass interference call (the call itself was at least defensible). The Texans hand the ball to the reigning NFL leading rusher, Arian Foster, just once. Schaub threw for 70 yards on the drive, using his tight ends and Kevin Walter to the best of his ability. He did so in the face of a substancial pass rush, and only once did he need fewer than three passing plays to move the chains.
This was a two minute drive, so the clock is now a factor. On the second play of the drive, the Raiders had twelve men on the field. The penalty was offset because of a personal foul on Texans guard Mike Brisiel. The foul was egregous, and it was so because under no circumstances was Brisiel healthy enough to be protecting Matt Schaub (something he was doing on literally every play). The Texans gave him help on every play after this, which I suppose is the next best thing to subbing him out and playing someone who is physically able to do the job.
Pretty much all of the yards on this drive were provided by the Raiders. 26 yards on a busted coverage on first and 25. 15 yards on the next play for roughing the passer. 34 inexcusable yards on 3rd and 23 because the Raiders never bothered to cover the two tight ends down the field and Schaub made a nice play outside contain and chuck it up. And then Kubiak and the Texans lost the game when the Raiders coverage held ground on the games’ final play and picked Schaub in the end zone.
You can blame Schaub if you want for the last play and for not getting into the end zone, but the Texans ran 26 plays down by a single score (they, in fact, never trailed in this game by more than a single score). They ran the ball (with the NFL’s reigning leading rusher) once. Against a team that came in giving up 5.9 yards per carry.
Lets boldface this for it’s proper effect. The Texans were without Andre Johnson. The Raiders came in giving up 5.9 yards per carry in four games. And needing a touchdown, Gary Kubiak and the Texans:
- Passed the ball on 25 out of 26 playcalls, opting to feature Jacoby Jones over Arian Foster
- Received at least five mulligans from the Raiders defense ranging from laziness (the 12th man not getting off the field) to hilarious (no one defends a hail mary on third and forever)
- Attempted a field goal in an eight point game
- Were coming out of the huddle with ten or fewer seconds on the play clock on multiple occasions
- Played a right guard who lacked the physical ability to come out of his stance and protect the passer
- Lost at home to a team that played an inferior game on this day